Can You Smoke Concerta?

Concerta is an ADHD medication that is sometimes abused as a study drug to increase focus and energy. While not very common, some people do smoke Concerta although it’s an inefficient route of administration.

You can smoke Concerta but the drug will be less effective than taking it orally.

Concerta is the brand name for the central nervous system (CNS) stimulant medication methylphenidate (or methylphenidate HCL). It’s a prescription medication that’s used to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy.

It works to ease ADHD symptoms by increasing levels of the neurotransmitters dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain. Methylphenidate is also an active ingredient in Ritalin and Ritalin LA.

When Concerta is prescribed by a healthcare provider, it’s taken orally. Unfortunately, the drug is also abused. When abused, it’s taken in high doses, snorted, or smoked, which can lead to a number of side effects and dangers.

Smoking Concerta

While it’s not very common, some people do abuse Concerta by smoking it. This is done by crushing up the pill form of the ADHD medication, heating it, and then smoking the vapor. This sends the drug directly into the bloodstream and to the brain. 

This is probably the least efficient way to take the drug as most of it’s burned away before it ever reaches the brain. 

However, because of the lack of efficiency, people may smoke more and more to achieve the desired effect and that can lead to an increased risk of an overdose. This is especially the case when smoking the extended-release formulation.

Side Effects Of Smoking Concerta

Whether you’re smoking Concerta or taking it another way, the medication can produce several side effects. And with abuse, these side effects are likely to be more intense. 

The side effects of Concerta can include:

  • irritability
  • difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep
  • dizziness
  • nausea and vomiting
  • loss of appetite
  • weight loss
  • coughing
  • stomach pain
  • diarrhea
  • headache
  • drowsiness
  • back pain
  • nasal, throat, and lung irritation
  • inflammation of the nose, throat, and lungs

Risks Of Smoking Concerta

Beyond the side effects, smoking Concerta can also increase the likelihood of various risks and dangers like overdose and addiction.

Drug Interactions

One big risk of smoking Concerta is that, when abusing the drug, people aren’t usually looking at the drug information that comes with a prescription. This information can tell you the drugs that shouldn’t be mixed with Concerta.

If you’re smoking Concerta and on any of the following drugs, serious adverse reactions could occur:

  • monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) like isocarboxazid and linezolid
  • supplements
  • antidepressants such as clomipramine and desipramine
  • decongestants
  • medications for heartburn or ulcers like esomeprazole and famotidine
  • medications for high blood pressure
  • anticonvulsants
  • selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) like citalopram (Celexa) and escitalopram (Lexapro)


There are also several health conditions that Concerta can actually make worse. If you’re smoking the drug and also have one of the following issues, you could be exacerbating your condition:

  • facial, motor, or verbal tics
  • glaucoma
  • overactive thyroid
  • heart attack
  • high blood pressure
  • personal/family history of depression, bipolar disorder, or mania


One of the biggest risks of smoking Concerta is overdose. It’s difficult to know how high the dosage is when you’re smoking it, which could lead to an accidental overdose.

Additionally, because smoking Concerta isn’t a very efficient route of administration, you may take more and more to achieve the effects you’re looking for and overdose.

The symptoms of a Concerta overdose can include:

  • vomiting
  • irregular heart rate
  • high blood pressure
  • abdominal cramps
  • fever
  • rapid breathing
  • psychosis
  • compulsive behavior
  • paranoia
  • confusion
  • panic attacks

Mental Health Issues

Methylphenidate misuse and abuse can also lead to sleep problems and, in turn, trigger or worsen anxiety disorders and other mental health disorders.

Additionally, high doses of Concerta can lead to stimulant psychosis which has symptoms similar to schizophrenia like hallucinations and panic.

Heart Problems

Concerta abuse can also lead to a strain on the cardiovascular system. In some severe cases, Concerta abuse can bring on heart attack, high blood pressure, and stroke. 

While smoking Concerta is unlikely to lead to this level of seriousness, if you abuse the drug long enough, you increase your risk of  these heart problems.


Concerta is classified by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as a Schedule II controlled substance. This means it has a relatively high potential for abuse which can then lead to dependence and addiction.

Whether you’re taking Concerta orally in high doses or snorting or smoking it, dependence and addiction can decrease your quality of life.

If you’re struggling with substance abuse, you don’t need to begin your recovery journey on your own. At Ohio Recovery Center, we offer a variety of treatment options including everything from detox and inpatient treatment to aftercare support.

For more information, please call our helpline today.

  1. National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)
  2. National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus

Written by Ohio Recovery Center Editorial Team

Published on: August 22, 2023

© 2024 Ohio Recovery Center | All Rights Reserved

* This page does not provide medical advice.

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